Japanese People Constantly Tell Me No One Uses These Words

Finally some fun thread is up again!

Examples or it didn’t happen!


People want to sound as natural as possible. It doesn’t mean words are invalid even in everyday speak but if you drop words like defenestration into a casual chat people are going to think strangely of it. In Japanese, like English there are natural ways to express something, even if another word or grammar pattern seems to fit the bill better. I don’t think WK is particularly good for learning vocabulary but the words it uses are perfectly legitimate in certain contexts.


Right??? I need to get back to my Amazon reviews. That’s where the real learning is!


If you’re trying to use words you learned here 1:1 with their english variant of course you’re going to run into problems, this is a kanji learning site first and includes vocab as a bonus. There are going to be words that are more suited to certain situations, and it’s up to you to look up what words appear in what contexts yourself.

There is not a single word on WaniKani I’d say is 100% useless. There are some words that to me might be, for example all the political and baseball vocab, but to somebody else those might be topics they talk about often so those vocab words are very useful to them. Unless you make a deck of vocab yourself, there are going to be words which might not apply to you, that’s just the nature of things.


@gekkotime This site is for teaching you how to read, not how to incorporate 2000 kanji into everyday speech. If you want vocab for casual conversation you’re probably better off without Wanikani, as you’ve figured out.

However, if you want to be literate, there are thousands of words using thousands of kanji that you’ll have to be able to read and understand. Our first language isn’t any different, there are countless words that we all recognize but have little to no use for personally.

There are definitely some questionable terms being taught here though, sure. The worst offender IMO has to be 稿料, or “advance for manuscript.” Any foreigner who’s expected to know THAT off the top of their head without any external reference certainly doesn’t need to be here.


I speak to my Japanese friends entirely in Wanikani flashcards and it’s working beautifully :ok_hand::100:


You’re using it wrong.

BTW, since everyone has basically said everything that needs to be said, and the only reason this got bumped is because someone came in to make insults, it would make sense to close it.


I think that this problem occurs a lot for people who learn vocabulary out of context.
Language in away is very specific when it comes to expressing ideas and thoughts. Therefore I believe that hours and hours of inputting is so much more important in order to gain natural speaking abilities, instead of focusing on outputting with words you’ve learned out of context.

If you’re only learning vocab out of context with SRS, you’re brain will be tricked into thinking that all words have a somewhat equal frequency. Our brains are pretty good at categorizing vocabulary when we listen to language, and with in context approaches you will automatically begin to place words into categories like casual, polite, frequently used, stiff, textbooky, etc.

I don’t see any problem with the vocabulary that is being taught by WaniKani since the words are taught in order to solidify the Kanji that is being taught. Come here for Kanji, go into the real world for Vocabulary.


Actually that idea – that this is a kanji learning site, and you’re not here to learn the words but the kanjis – is the most fascinating part of this thread. You cannot learn the kanjis in a vacuum, you won’t be able to read by knowing the kanjis by themselves (as you probably know just as well as me, they’re usually used in pairs or fours anyway), you learn to read by learning how the kanjis are used. And if you are getting a ton of out-of-place r outright weird vocab, that’s actually gonna hinder your progress, unless of course you have the opportunity and time to weed out the crap vocab with the help of native speakers.

I mean I’m not saying that WaniKani is not a useful tool, but the criticism towards its vocab section is well warranted, and the amount of denial in this thread is just astounding.

(But admittedly I typed my previous rant pretty drunk after I’ve been told off for using some weird words I picked up on WK, and found this thread through Google, and lost my shit after skipping through the ‘you should learn words nobody uses because, well, I don’t know, but to sound knowledgeable I type in a bunch of crap to sound intellectual’ type of comments.)

Would you recommend studying an SAT word list to a Japanese person who wants to get better at conversational English?

Reading and speaking are two different skill sets.

I understand it’s not a 1:1 analogy, but if you choose your vocab set by saying “it also has to include 2000 different kanji and teach me most of the onyomi and kunyomi readings for them” you’re going to get a lot of words that don’t show up every day.

Add to the fact that WK then doesn’t spend any time teaching you how to use any words you learn, and well, you have a recipe for sounding bizarre.

But WK never advertised itself as a “how to speak Japanese” learning tool.

EDIT: BTW, we’re all waiting to hear what word you used.


I grew up in Mississippi, and the majority of folks I grew up with use a vocabulary much smaller than college educated people I know from other parts of the country.


WHY!! Why do you do this!!!

Also… its funny. But the comment above yours has the never ending story symbol. It all ties together.

But then would you recommend an SAT word list to anyone who is trying to actually learn any language, for any purpose? What is the merit of learning a rather unbalanced set of words to remember readings which you will not use unless you know the proper vocab which goes with them? I don’t want to make random assumptions about anyone’s usage of Japanese, but if you ever had to read an official letter in Japanese or had to take care of any sort of official (written) business in Japan you must be aware of how far is knowing the kanjis from being able to read. Or just reading a sign consisting of like 6-8 kanjis you know – you might be able to read them one by one, but then how do you piece them together?

I do understand that WK is not a comprehensive learning tool, but what you don’t seem to understand is that it’s not that I don’t get that this site is supposed to be for kanjis, is that it’s way of memorizing vocab is not very useful.

Also, I don’t get what are you waiting for (not to mention the plural), some bombshell that would make you guys suddenly turn around and realize that learning rare words for memorizing various kunyomi readings might not be that grand after all? I certainly don’t have such lofty ambitions, I prefer browsing stupid threads while drunk on the train home, I mean I’m trying to blend into the culture an all that.

But in any case, the drunken rage stems from pronouncing 近々 as きんきん, which is a correct reading in WK yet unused, instead of ちかぢか, but there are quite a few words like that. Antoher recent one is 所載、which my Japanese friend (postgrad educated in social sciences) actually had to Google upon seeing. I recommend you google it too, apart from a dictionary listing, virtually all of the results are Chinese. But I’m pretty sure we will all use it someday, somehow.

Have you ever looked at a sample Eiken level 1 test? The words are ones you’d never see in a learner’s conversation, but Japanese people need them for these language qualifications they are seeking.

Similarly. many people here are aiming for N2 or N1, which feature the kind of kanji questions that WK will teach you.

I devote a lot of time to reading comprehension, because I know that WK isn’t teaching that. This “reading” is just the ability to recognize the sounds the words make; I’m not confusing it with reading comprehension. But reading comprehension study goes much smoother when you don’t have to look up kanji every other word.

This is a new one… complaining that WK accepts all the possible readings.

Is there any reason that すぐ was insufficient for what you wanted to express?

近々 is an N2 vocab word, so yes, there are people here who are going to want to know it. Doesn’t mean you need to use it.

If you learned 所載, surely you also learned 載る recently. Kunyomi vocabulary is going to be a better option for conversations than onyomi words, but WK doesn’t bother stressing this every single time.

WK teaches 隣人 for neighbor, which is of course a word that exists, but in conversation you would want to use おとなりさん or となりの人. If 隣人 comes up on your N1 exam, you’ll know how to read it.

And then when I saw 隣接ホール on a golf course, I was able to both read it and understand its meaning even though it wasn’t specifically on WK. But if I was going to tell someone to go to the adjacent hole, I’d probably still say となりのホール


Some bold statements need some backup. You suggested that WK is broken and everyone is stoopid for not reaching your level of insight, coming up with a list of like 5–10 things where one could see the point of your argument should be easy.

I would consider WK broken if it has maybe 5% or more irrelevant words. From my feeling for the vocab it’s maybe <1% (?). There are more than 6000 words after all.


I also live in Japan and so far I have had nothing but “aha!” moments from using WK. As in my ability to accurately recognise and read kanji has improved significantly… In this way I feel that WK is mainly for reading/writing. To improve my speaking and vocabulary I will look to other resources.


Honestly, I don’t get all the salt here. The sheer number of words you need, particularly to read at a fluent level, is so large that these “unused” words are a tiny drop in the bucket either way. And as someone who enjoys looking through English learning resources for Japanese speakers, this is hardly a WK-specific issue with language learning.


The salt is he had an embarrassing language learning moment and got a better understanding of how to use the words he knows.

That’s basically what learning a language is about.


I know this is an old thread, but since it’s popped up I feel compelled to share this minor life hack:

Follow a bunch of Japanese people on Twitter who talk about subjects you find interesting.
Take a WK vocab word you’re struggling to retain. Copy it into Twitter search.
Hit the “from people I follow” filter.
You get to immediately see the word used in context by native speakers, in a more bite-sized and conversational way than other forms of reading.

I’ve been surprised at how many words I thought were too obscure, or that come up in these perennial “words no one uses” threads, that I did end up finding used in tweets. Or if the word does seem to be legitimately obscure, it’s informative to see in what cases it does get used. (i.e. 電飾 to describe sunglasses that have flashing lights around the rims – a specific case, but these things come up in life)


I’ve mentioned this before, perhaps even on this thread. But people who laugh at learners to belittle them aren’t really friends in my book. Probably not true in your case, but if it were me and it really bothered me, I would just tell them how cruel their laughter is (many who’ve never live abroad don’t understand). If it’s them just lightly teasing (rather than being really mean), I’d probably snap back about how languages they speak :wink:.

Vocabulary is a tricky thing that does require some extra work on the learner’s side to know what is literary vocabulary versus conversational vocabulary. Getting to level 60 and living in Japan, I found the majority of the material presented here to be really useful whether it’s passive knowledge or active knowledge. WK is far from perfect (and I’m not sure if anyone has argued that it doesn’t need any adjustments), but it’s often misunderstood what people should be learning from WK. This is due to how it is presented on their front page, “2000 kanji. 6000 vocabulary words. In just over a year.”

In any event, hopefully those kinds of events decrease in frequency over time. :grinning: